By SCOTT BAUER
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Democratic candidate for governor, Tony Evers, said on Monday that if he’s elected, he would be open to toughening licensing requirements for Wisconsin’s concealed-carry law, which adopted by his Republican rival.
Evers was asked about the law by reporters seeking a response to the killing of 11 Jewish people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. The shooting has generated bipartisan condemnation across the country and in Wisconsin.
Gov. Scott Walker is a gun-rights advocate, has the highest A+ ranking from the National Rifle Association and has received $4.25 million worth of support from the NRA since 2010. Evers, the state superintendent, has campaigned on his support for universal background checks for gun purchases and banning rapid fire “bump stock” devices, as was used in the Las Vegas shooting last year. That attack left 58 people dead, making it the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history.
Evers also supports regulating military-style weapons and preventing those on the “no fly” list from buying guns.
Walker opposes universal background checks. Last year, in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Walker and the Legislature enacted a $100 million school-safety plan. Under the law, the state Department of Justice handed out grant money to schools for a variety of safety projects.
Beyond signing the concealed-carry law, Walker also ended the state’s 48-hour waiting period for gun purchases. Evers supports reinstating that waiting period.
When asked on Monday whether changes were needed to Wisconsin’s seven-year-old concealed-carry law, Evers said: “I’d like to make sure the requirements are tough, for people that get (a permit), but I think it’s working now.”
When asked if more training would be needed, Evers said: “Possibly. I’m not prepared to say. I think it’s a law that was passed with some controversy, but it seems to be working. I just want to make sure the requirements are adequate.”
The Walker campaign spokesman, Austin Altenburg, said the governor does not support any changes to the concealed carry law.
Evers’ running mate, the former state Rep. Mandela Barnes, supported proposals in the Legislature to require psychological exams for people seeking the concealed-weapons permit, to ban hollow-point bullets and to prohibit ownership of military-style weapons.
Evers said he was “not prepared to respond to that” when asked whether he agreed with Barnes’ positions on those issues. Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, a Republican, criticized Barnes last week on Twitter.
“If @TheOtherMandela had his way, ANY citizen who wanted a concealed carry permit would have to have their head examined,” Kleefisch tweeted Thursday. “Since when do you need a doctor’s note to exercise your constitutional rights? Again: Failed leadership.”
Wisconsin was the 49th state to enact a concealed-carry law when Walker signed it in his first year in office. The law contains a training requirement, which applicants can satisfy in various ways.
They can provide one of the following: a copy of a hunter education certificate from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources or an equivalent agency from another state; a concealed-carry license from another state; documentation of small-arms training while serving in the U.S. military or reserves; a letter from the state Law Enforcement Standards Board or from a police department stating the applicant served as a police officer; or a certificate of completion of a firearms-safety or training course by a national or state organization that certifies firearm instructors. Such a certificate must include a completion date and instructor’s name.
By this weekend, there were about 348,000 valid concealed weapons permits in Wisconsin, according to the state Department of Justice.